DOH says suspect COVID-19 cases who refuse free swab test can face penalties

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2020 09:05 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said identified close contacts of COVID-19 cases or those showing symptoms may face penalties if they do not undergo the free swab testing offered by the local government.

“Kapag pinuntahan kayo ng local government para magpa-swab kayo, you were identified as exposed or with symptoms,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(If the local government visits and asks you to be swabbed, you were identified as exposed or with symptoms.)

Vergeire said it is part of the DOH’s CODE or Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic strategy, which involves teams visiting villages and going house-to-house to identify those who were exposed to COVID-19 patients or have symptoms.

She said they are immediately isolated and then tested.

“So kapagka kayo ay pinuntahan para mag-swab at tumanggi kayo, meron kayong sanctions based on the law,” she said, citing Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

(So if you are visited for a swab test and you refuse, there are sanctions based on the law.)

Vergeire said the law details prohibited acts including “non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.”

Those who violate may be penalized with a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 or may face imprisonment of 1 to 6 months.

Vergeire reminded Filipinos that refusing to be tested can result in the further spread of COVID-19.

“Because this is an infectious disease, pwede kang makapanghawa. So kailangan sumunod at ating alalahanin na meron tayong batas para dito,” she said.

(Because this is an infectious disease, you can infect people. So you need to follow and remember that there is a law for this.

As of Monday, COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reached more than 194,000.